Challenger 4 – Channel Islands Empowerment Voyage

By Kate Stewart - August 10th, 2023 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

On board Challenger 4 this week, we have a group of young people aged 16-25 from across the UK joining us for a five-night Voyage of Empowerment.

Read their blog below to see how they’ve been getting on.

Day 1

Monday 7

We set off at 14:00 after spending a few minutes looking around the ship and getting to know everyone. After setting off, we got ready to set sail out to Alderney. The journey began with us getting an introduction to the layout of the boat. We were quick to familiarise ourselves with and were taught the basics; like which sails were which, how to tie different ropes and the safety rules concerning our journey.

One thing that impressed me was the marine facilities, which were kept in good conditions and looked comfortable.

At setting off, we had to put up the Mainsail and the Yankee. We had to work together and communicate to do this, although it did take a while; it involved others sweating the Mainsail up the mast while others were working on the Halyard.  As we left harbour, I was tasked with having to use one of the fenders to shield the boat from colliding with anything else. A task I nervously completed as I was terrified of falling over.

At sea, we quickly became accustomed to the high and low deck as we found we had to re-orientate when the boat tacked. Sometimes, occasionally my fault, we would have water spraying on to deck due my lethal steering, which would have the Challenger on edge with the waves.

The journey really began for me on our night shift from 20:00-00:00. In the moment the night was dark, the sky was silent and the wind was less fierce. Lack of light pollution meant we could see the night sky in all its full glory. It first began with me seeing one star then another, the more I looked the more I saw, and after a minute the sky was painted in a storm of stars; this was then sweetened by the passing of a shooting star. This was the first I had ever seen, a memory I will cherish, especially if my wish does comes true.

Surprisingly, I also learnt something new. Apparently the moon doesn’t rise when the sun sets, it has its own unique cycle, which I then witnessed when I saw my first blood moon, a shining scarlet orb hovering above the murky horizon. As I was on the helm, I had to be wary of the TSS (Transport Separation Scheme), the sea equivalent of a motorway. All in all, as expected for a first day I was shocked and surprised but in more good ways than unpleasant.

Day 2

Tuesday 8

We started off the day still sailing, we arrived early morning. As soon we dropped anchor, we all went to bed for a quick snooze before starting to prepare lunch. For lunch today was baguettes with cheese and ham. Morale was low at the beginning of  the day during lunch from the late night and sea sickness.

After finishing lunch, we got to have a briefing about the plan for the day. We then left for shore for the afternoon, we split up not two groups for the day. My group decided to walk around town and sight see. We stopped at a pub for a drink and we chatted for a few hours getting to know each other. When we finished, we continued to look around the small village we walked down to a cliff edge and took a few pictures. In this area there was a tent were the locals were having a small festival. We checked it out and then decided to head back as it was getting late by this point. The other team decided to go for a bike ride around the island.

Three of us went for a bike ride, after getting directions from the water taxi to the hire shop. When we arrived, we hired them for an hour, got directions for a scenic and nice cycle, and headed off. The route was supposed to take us over an hour to complete, but did include stops and slower cycling, while we freewheeled down the hills at break-neck speed.

We stopped for some photos near the Roman fort, and to admire the scenery before speeding round the island again, before having a rest at Crabby Bay.

After that, we dropped off the bikes, and headed to Sweet Hog as per the recommendation of the bike shop-and it was well worth it! They had a wide array of homemade ice cream, which we tasted, as well as sweets, with five flavours of sorbet and ice cream coming in Coconut, Eton Mess, Rum and Raisin, and White Chocolate and Cherry. There was an assortment of toppings included.

Once consumed, we wandered to a local pub, The Moorings, which was right on the seafront, and had live music courtesy of the Alderney Festival, while we had a snack of chips and a soft drink. After we’d had our fill, we moseyed down to the harbour and a quick trip across the bay got us back on the boat, ready to cook dinner. Pudding was delicious homemade banana bread, made by a member of the crew.

We had to get back at 18:00 for dinner and the evening. For dinner, we had sausages and mash which was really good as it was the first hot meal that we got to eat after that long last night. After eating, we tidied up and got ready for quiet time while a few have decided to play some cards.

Day 3

Wednesday 9

We sailed to Guernsey early in the morning, and docked up at a pontoon in Guernsey Harbour, before breaking for some well-deserved elevensies. Some went downstairs to make an army’s worth of sandwiches, while the rest of us worked together to bring down the sail, and after that the day’s plan was discussed. After clearing the table away, we all got ready for mast climbing, all the way to the top of the 95ft mast, for the best view in Guernsey. A Challenger staple! The view was amazing. It did dip unnervingly in the wind, but it was fine as long as you didn’t look down! Once everyone had recovered, lunch was tortellini pasta and cheese sauce, which went down swimmingly, one person had four bowls, while the dinghy was found and pumped up. The pontoon we were on didn’t connect to the land, so we were rowed across the five metre gap to showers and the town.

We were told of some bathing pools for swimming, filled by the tides, and a few of us decided to check them out and make use of our swim gear-and it was worth it. The pools were a favourite of the locals, but bitterly cold, so getting in was an experience for all, and apparently good entertainment (the rest of the group watched with mild amusement, before finding better showers). The bathing pools had showers, but were rinse only, to get rid of the salty water, so everyone that swam trudged across the seafront back to the port, but the hot water was definitely worth it!

We rendezvoused back at the showers together, and properly cleaned off the salt, before heading to a supermarket for ice creams and snacks and wandering into a pub for soft drinks. After about an hour, we split and some went for a wander, while others nursed lemonade, meeting back at 18:30. The walk took us all over Guernsey town, spotting landmarks and statues before moseying back, and meeting the Skipper, who was getting chips for dinner, before wandering down to the pontoon and signalling to the Challenger that we needed picking up! A couple of the stronger swimmers debated making a jump for it, but it wasn’t needed. After a bit of shouting, a port officiant took pity and knocked on the hull for us, before jetting off, but by then we’d been spotted and a crew member had come to pick us up, rowing across the gap. We were ferried across five-a-go, during which time the Skipper also appeared, carrying the promised chips for dinner, which were promptly served. The remaining crew had been cooking fish for our arrival, which combined with the chips for a lovely meal. Pudding was homemade banana bread again (nobody was complaining, it was good banana bread!)

After that, it was free time, so a large group of us played card games and plaited up poor Dan’s hair into an absolutely rocking hairstyle well into the night, before slouching off to bed. And absolutely nobody definitely didn’t break the table. At all.​

Day 4

Thursday 10

We started in Guernsey, we went onto the island and some people went swimming in the tide pool. Many screams where heard due to the freezing cold temperature. While the rest went to shower and then went to some shops where we bought ice cream. We then went to café for a refreshing coke. We were there for three hours before coming back on board.

We then made way to the Isle of Wight. There wasn’t enough wind so we had to use the motor. It was really calm and very sunny. We saw jelly fish and stars in the clear night sky. It looked very beautiful. This was a night sail, Starboard watch covered from 20:00 until 00:00 then Port watch covered 00:00 until 04:00.

We arrived at the Isle of Wight of white at 03:00 and proceeded to head straight to sleep. There was only one parking space remaining due to Cowes Yacht Haven being jam packed.​

Day 5

Friday 11

We started Friday feeling worn out from a long night of sailing, and after a slow start we made our way to Yarmouth on the via water taxi.

In Yarmouth, a group of us went on a walk where we got to experience the breath-taking coastline of the island, while the rest went to the shops to resupply food stores, lotus biscuits proved to be the go-to choice.

Following this, the majority of the group found their way to a local coffee house where a hugely-expensive round of drinks were bought by me. We spent the vast amount of our time on the island here, which was an enjoyable experience.

After approximately two hours, we once again visited the shop as some people decided that chicken curry for tea was not for them, so they bought some pot noodles instead. After being kicked off the boat, their bodies have not been found (this is a joke. no one has died on our trip).

Next we found a fish and chip shop, where we bought some chips and ate them in the harbour, while watching the ships as they came and went. This led to some feeling seasick before we had set sail to Portsmouth.

This took around two hours, as we left the Isle of Wight at 16:00 and arrived at 18:00, where we were captained to a smooth docking by our fantastic Skipper. Tea was quickly being made, while others admired the surrounding boats and transported a sail from our almost super yacht (we are two meters off) to another. We enjoyed the chicken curry and had a touching debrief, where we all shared our feelings about this unforgettable voyage. This topped off what we have found to be a worthwhile endeavour.

The washing up came next and we will all be sorry to go tomorrow.

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